9/11: What We Learned

Sometimes the greatest lessons we learn come at a great cost.  We learned those lessons on a beautiful, perfect morning 15 Septembers ago.

The attacks on the World Trade Center opened our eyes to many lapses in the society in which we lived.

We learned that a few years prior, the owners of some U.S. flight schools reported that several Arabic speaking men were coming to the school to take flight lessons.  That normally would not be out of the ordinary except they only wanted to learn to operate the controls.  They were not interested in taking off, landing, flight planning or weather.  The owners of the flight schools  reported that to the authorities but the authorities determined the information did not prove anything malicious and filed it away.

We learned our cities did not have a great plan of how to respond to mass scale emergencies.  They didn’t know how to fight a fire on the upper floors of a mega hi-rise. We learned that many people died because instructions given to them by building security and emergency 911 workers was to stay inside the building and do not leave.  People were told if the left the building, they would lose their jobs.  We learned that because of this, some people had to make terrible choices.

We learned our governments worked in a bubble, no agency talking to any other agency.  No one shared information even if they knew a problem was imminent. There was no sharing of files or information even for the safety of the country. There had been chatter of an attack a few months before it happened.  The agency with the information kept it to themselves. There were names of potential people who could do us harm but no one shared the information with other agencies.

We learned our Military had no authority to make immediate decisions.  The Military waited for orders from the Vice President  who waited on orders from the President.  We also learned our fighter jets, that were supposed to be ready to defend us, were not kept armed and at the ready.

We learned the FAA and the Airport Authorities did not have a plan for dealing with several hijacked airplanes.  They found it difficult to track what airplane was where and what plane was a hijack.  Misinformation was given to the Military causing chaos on both sides.

One of the most important lessons we learned was going overboard with rules didn’t make us any safer than not having enough rules. We learned this by the subsequent actions of the attempted shoe bomber and the attempted underwear bomber.

I hope we never have to find out if these deficiencies have been fixed.  I hope we never have to learn anymore hard lessons like those 15 Septembers ago.


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The End Of the Innocence

2016 has started with great losses to the music industry, most notably David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Maurice White.  Three artists who were a major part in the songbook of the lives of kids in my generation, the 70’s.

While we have suffered other notable losses this year, the loss of these three forces hit home pretty hard.  Writer Marc Eliot, in an op ed on CNN.com, wrote “For people who came up in that time, the death of Frey — and earlier this month the death of David Bowie — comes as a reality check, a resounding reminder that the days of “Take it Easy” and the promise of “One of these Nights” are long behind us. Instead, music, the blood of our youth, has somehow been replaced by mortgages, credit cards, spouses, children, divorces, alimony, expanding waistlines and diminished dreams.”

While I do agree their passings are a reminder that we are no longer 17, I think it is a stark reminder of something else.  A loss of something much more.  It is a reminder that our innocence is gone and will probably never come back.

Listening to Bowie, The Eagles and Earth, Wind and Fire takes me back to  a time when we were free and unafraid.  We could sit in the park in our cars with the windows down and not worry about harm coming to us.  Our parents sent us to school and it never crossed their minds that we may not come back at the end of the day.  We went to public places, like the mall or movie theater, and were never concerned about being safe.  We walked to the store, stood at bus stops and played outside and it never crossed our minds that out of nowhere we could get shot or knocked out by some thug who’s idea that is of “fun”.  We rode bikes far away from home, stayed outside until the street lights came on and went to the neighbor’s house and our parents didn’t worry that we would come to harm at the hands of another person both known and unknown.

Were there bad people at that time?  Of course there were.  But we were protected and allowed to do what we did best, be kids and enjoy our childhood.  We were shielded from the bad people and it wasn’t until we were much older that we even knew who the  bad people were.

I cannot imagine being a parent today. Worrying each time a child steps out of the door. Constantly watch the clock while they are gone.  The sense of panic every time there is a news report of a problem at a school, bus stop, theater, mall or restaurant. The sense of foreboding every time they are in a car with their friends.  Playing outside has become such an unfamiliar practice that when we see it we ask “What’s wrong with those parents? Don’t they know it’s dangerous out here?”

I don’t know if we can ever get that innocence back.  I guess it’s just a time that lives in our memories and our recordings now.  The deaths of David, Glenn and Maurice hit home that there is an end and that saddens me.  But I’m even more sad at the loss of all that we were when we were listening to those great songs.

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The Matter Of Lives

2015 has quickly become the year of the police shooting.  Month after month, we have heard of police shootings of young black men at the hands of police officers (I am sure there have been shootings of young black women too but they don’t seem to get as much attention).  These shootings have spawned the phrase “Black Lives Matter”.

It seems while they have traded the white sheets and hoods for a black uniform and a badge, we are OK with death in the community  until it is our son or daughter bleeding to death in the middle of the street at the hands of those tasked to protect and serve. We live ignorantly in this world expecting that we will be treated like every other citizen in this country.  The fact is we are no closer to being an equal in society than we were in 1965, 1945, 1855 or 1805.  We have allowed ourselves and our children to become exactly what our grandparents fought against.  Uneducated, unsocial misfits.  In an education system that is one of the worst in the world, we manage to graduate some minority children who go on to be doctors, lawyers, scientists and business executives  but a majority of children never make it past junior high school. Getting an education is last on the list of priorities.

Our children can Whip and Nae-Nae but can’t tell you the significance of Selma or even where it’s located on the map.  They can quote the words to the latest rap song by Drake but can’t quote the amendments of the constitution.  They can quote all of the latest gadgets they want for Christmas but can’t make change in a simple financial transaction.  We think it’s cute to capture a 5 year old back talking an adult and placing it on You Tube but can’t understand why authoritites approach them with a defensive attuitude.  We can complain and protest but refuse to use our voices in the voting booth.

What we show to the world is what the world thinks.  If the images we put out is that of people who are  dangerous, uneducated, unfeeling, unimportant then the world will treat us that way.  If the world sees us as uncaring and unconcerend for each other, they will not care or be concerned about us either and therefore  our lives really don’t matter.

Perhaps as we enter 2016, we should think about reinventing what we show to the world.  Perhaps when we start caring and respcting ourselves, then everyone will realize that our lives really do matter.

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My Poor little Blog

Here my poor little blog sits, unused and unloved (not true.  I love my Corner of the Soap Box).  My little blog is neglected.  I have a lot to say but I have failed to jump on my corner and shout it out loud.

Today I am recommitting to my blog.  I am vowing to write something at least once a month (baby steps as I was so correctly told the other day).

My Corner of the Soap Box shall not be silent again (I hope!)

Watch for words to come.

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Out Of Bounds

Out Of Bounds.

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Out Of Bounds

Let me start with a disclaimer.  This post is NOT a justification or defense of Donald Sterling.   I think Donald Sterling is a cheating, bigoted idiot.

That being said there are a couple of things that bother me about what has happened. First, a private conversation was recorded and released without his permission or knowledge.  It is becoming more common these days that people are recording everything that is said and done without the knowledge or permission of the other person. Should we now assume that we can no longer express our thoughts out loud even within the privacy of our own four walls?  Everyone we talk to these days has their phones out during conversations.  Are they recording what you are saying?  Think about your interactions this week.  Did you whisper to a co-worker or a friend or a relative something critical of another person or make a joke at someone else’s expense?  Are you sure you weren’t being recorded? If you are not sure, it could come back to haunt you. In this 1984 Big Brother society, everything is up for public fodder.

Sterling has had a reputation for decades for making inappropriate comments and remarks concerning race.  The woman involved in this knew how he felt about the subject of race and yet she freely accepted the Rolls Royce, 2 Bentley s, money, jewelry, tickets, court side seats, etc. from him.  She also knew he was married.  His thoughts and opinions were all OK and acceptable until the relationship went south. She doesn’t seem to feel any remorse for what she did. I guess she is determined to get money one way or another. Regardless of his views and opinions, he is still entitled to have some amount of privacy.

The second issue is with the players. Sterling has been sued several times for discrimination including suits from a couple of players.  These are public court cases because Sterling doesn’t do battle under the radar.  After all of that, there were no players refusing to sign and play for the Clipper organization. The players came to play, took Sterling’s money and have/are living pretty fat and happy. Sterling made his money on the backs of black players.  The players happily cashed the checks even though they knew his reputation.  Where were the protests before the tape? Why weren’t they calling the media and complaining about Donald Sterling long before this tape was released? Suddenly now everyone wants to protest.  Seems they are trying to catch a wagon that has already gone.

Social media has made us a society without boundaries.  There is no more privacy. We have given up freedom of speech for the endless 15 minutes of fame.  We can’t have an opinion that differs from the majority lest we be cast out into the light.  We discourage people from being leaders or standing for what they truly believe.  We live under the radar until what’s done in the dark comes to light.  People who stood by and silently perpetuated the wrongs are now standing up because  no one wanted to be caught on TV or in the paper not being part of the reaction.

If Sterling is right, I’m sure we will find many more have ugly skeletons that will fall out of closets.

So the next time you go to throw a stone, remember your unwanted 15 minutes of fame could be one recording away..


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Where is MH370?

Where is MH370?.

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